Wednesday, January 25, 2017

10 Misconceptions About Rapid Application Development You Need to Do Away With

Have you noticed the fuss that's been going on lately about Rapid Application Development (RAD)? A lot of people seem to be talking about it these days. While that's generally good for the industry, there's a problem.

Arising alongside this rave are misconceptions and myths about the technique.

The problem?

Harboring these misconceptions and myths can cause you to misjudge certain concepts which will ultimately result in you making decisions that can affect your business negatively and slow down your organization's progress.

At Joget Workflow, we've worked with quite a number of really awesome organizations and developers who’re using our RAD technology to create great enterprise apps. We've also come across a number of people who had one of these misconceptions or another.

Today, we want to try to lay some of the confusions to rest. We've put together the top ten of these widely held misconceptions so you're better equipped to make smarter decisions and move your business forward.

Ready? Let's jump right into it:

Myth #1: RAD is for creating small applications only
Due to the fact that RAD is a development technique for quickly building minimally-coded software applications, some people tend to believe that it's designed to handle only small applications. But that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Of course, small applications can be built with RAD tools, but it's not limited to those kinds of projects. There are several success stories where applications created with RAD have thousands of users and are processing millions of transactions.

Myth #2: RAD tools are for business users only/RAD tools are for developers only

There are two schools of thought here…

The first one argues that rapid application development is a technique specifically reserved for business users to be able to build apps more easily. The other school of thought believes that RAD is designed solely for pro developers to make their work easier.

While these ideologies are partially true (because RAD makes life easier for both IT and business users), RAD is built for both, not just one of the two groups.

RAD platforms with no-code/low-code functionality provide extremely easy to use drag-and-drop visual development environment for both business users and professional developers, which means the idea behind RAD is to make it possible to develop apps with minimal technical skills in less time.

Myth #3: RAD is for small businesses, not big organizations

Some people are of the opinion that rapid application development is for startups, and not for big organizations. But that's incorrect — big businesses do use RAD but may not tell you.

If you are a big business, there are scads of benefits you can get from rapid application development. For instance, your development and testing time can greatly be cut down due to the reuse of patterns.

Myth #4: If you can code, you should always code instead of using RAD platforms

Well, this assumption is not just delusional but also very finite in scope. Imagine getting told that those who can walk should always walk instead of using cars.

Just as cars make movement easier and faster, RAD tools do the same when it comes to development.

People who can code will benefit a lot from RAD and are probably the best people to make the best use of RAD technology, as they have loftier technical skills and understand development better. In addition, they can easily create add-ons, plugins, and other relevant components to create apps that deliver great experience and meet business needs more intuitively.

Myth #5: You will need expert intervention for professional security and database design

Yes, it's true that professional apps usually require primo security and decent DB design. And in traditional development, the incorporation of these elements are usually handled by expert developers.

With the arrival of RAD, some people still think that achieving professional security and DB design requires expert intervention. But that's totally untrue.

Rapid application development tools come with new technologies including drag-and-drop form builders, automatic table creations, configurable security, and so on. From a security perspective, platforms like Joget Workflow have been scanned and rated by industry leading security services such as HP Fortify On-Demand. With this, non-coders — business users, product managers, and citizen developers — can easily and quickly create apps with top-of-the-line security and automated database design.

Myth #6: Rapid application development will steal the job of the dev

You know, one of the reasons why some developers are at sixes and sevens as to whether or not to adopt RAD methodology is because they erroneously think that RAD will take their job and leave them with nothing.
But hey, don't be misled!

RAD is not a threat to your job security; it's a tool for honing your craft, becoming much more productive, eliminating redundancies, saving time, and making more money in the process.

The world is fast changing and so is the way we work. You don't need to change your job, but rather, change how you work. For developers, it's RAD.

Myth #7: RAD applications cannot be integrated with other business tools

This again is caused by misinformation. A 21st century RAD tool should be able to integrate your applications with other business tools.

For instance, Joget Workflow makes it extremely easy to securely connect your enterprise apps with third-party tools via APIs in a reliable way. Plugins can be downloaded from the Joget Marketplace or custom-built by developers. Business users can in turn use these plugins inside an app without having to write a line of code.

Myth #8: RAD platforms cannot support lots of features

So you think rapid application development works just for ‘light’ apps, huh?


While some RAD platforms may not fully support gobs of features, there are those that let you develop apps that are rich in functionality. And some platforms even make it possible for these features to be customized as per business needs.

Myth #9: You can't create sterling UI/UX using RAD tools

Professional apps built using traditional methods usually have compelling user interface/experience and involve senior front end developers who are adept at HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Some people think creating such UI/UX is only possible with the manual, traditional method.

But here's the kick:

Great UI/UX is achievable with rapid application development methodology.

With RAD tools that have visual development capabilities, out of the box templates can replace the immediate need for UI/UX experts; and point-by-point adjustments can then be done where necessary.

Myth #10: It takes time to build big apps

While some folks think that you can't build major apps with RAD, some others think that the bigger the app idea, the more time it'll take to build it with RAD. They believe there are no limits to the size of your idea but that the real hitch comes when you try to incubate that idea.

Yes, it used to take weeks (even months) to develop big apps, but that’s the old way. In the new era, RAD platforms with minimal coding requirement let anyone with an idea to build an app quickly. That's one of the core objectives of RAD — rapid development.

So don't limit your creative imaginations. Instead, get your hands on a worthwhile RAD tool like Joget Workflow and soar.

Tell you what, over at Joget Workflow, we've witnessed situations where usable apps were developed within hours with our RAD platform, and prototypes within minutes.
And things are getting even more exciting as we're looking to roll out our next major version.

Joget Workflow v6 is coming with lots of upgrades with special focus on user experience, mobility, maintainability, and performance. It'll make building an app super easy, with minimum time and coding requirements.

We hope this article has helped to clear some of the confusions around rapid application development. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.

Friday, January 6, 2017

What You Need to Develop a Successful Enterprise App

Enterprise applications have gone from being just optional add-ons to mission critical tools, necessary for smooth business operations in many organizations. A recent report by Apperian reveals that a vast number of corporate employees in 91% of the enterprises surveyed used work-related apps in 2016.

Worthy of note is the fact that a majority of organizations are planning to put more time, money, and effort into internal app development this year, thanks to the value apps bring to business — improved internal communication, increased operational efficiency, more seamless collaboration, anytime/anywhere access to data, and so on.

While this is good for workplace productivity, the problem is that as demand for business apps increases, internal developers may be forced to compromise quality in order to deliver more quickly. But business users have greater expectations — they want great user experience (UX) comparable to the ones found in consumer apps.

So how can you ensure you deliver a good enterprise app that's successful?

This post answers the question, but let's first have a brief look at what a “successful enterprise app” is:
A successful enterprise app is one employees find helpful — even delightful — to use. It does at least one of the following:
  • Solves employees’ problems and makes their jobs easier. 
  • Fixes efficiency issues. 
  • Streamlines complex business processes in an organization. 
  • Capacitates effective collaboration between both individuals and departments. 
  • Curtails costs of time and money. 
  • Allows organizations to quickly and easily identify and take opportunities. 
  • Enables employees to continue working outside of a traditional workspace. 
  • Improves workflow and approval processes. 
  • Provides secure access to information. 
Sounds good, doesn't it?

Here are the most important things you need if you want to build internal apps that deliver these benefits: 

1. A clear purpose of the app with an appropriate framework

One of the first things you will need is a well-defined, basic conceptual structure of the app you're trying to create. This comes at the ideation stage. The fact is, without an idea of what you want to build, you won't be able to actually build it.
Determine what problems the application will solve. This sort of structural framework will help you build an app that serves a clear purpose, something that's necessary for an app to be considered successful.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Don't try to generalize the purpose of the app but make it task- or process-specific.

We'd even recommend you get all the major participants to come together to deconstruct the app idea down to the crux of its core value proposition, and then build up from there. You may also want to talk to the target users — employees — to understand their pain points and gauge what they actually need. This will keep everyone on the same page regarding what to expect, streamline the development and deployment processes, and increases the app’s chances of being adopted by employees and eventually succeeding.

2. User engagement

Great user experience is an important feature of every successful app. Without it, your app will be treated with disinclination by employees.

What should you do? Create better UX.
A good idea might be to try to make your enterprise apps go head to head with well-built consumer apps in terms of UXD.

Here's why:

Generally, people are accustomed to consumer apps that are intuitive, clean, and user-friendly. You need to integrate these attributes into your enterprise apps. Statista forecasts that by the end of this year, over a third of the world’s population will own a smartphone; that's an estimated total number of almost 2.6 billion smartphone users in the world. This will amp up market demand for business-focused apps that meet the high performance and usability of consumer apps.

Your aim should be to build something that's truly exciting and engaging for people to actually participate. It should be to proffer a solution that’s better than and different from the clutter employees see out there. It should be to create stuff that offers a more convenient way of interacting with job-related tasks, making it rewarding to use. Only then will it be used to the same degree as consumer apps.

Don't know where to start? Here are a few guidelines to give you a leg up:
  • Keep all interactions within the app short and straightforward. 
  • Provide as much information as necessary to easily complete each action… sort of quick walkthroughs. 
  • Offer some level of customization so each user can tailor the app to their own needs. 
  • KISS it. (Not literally though; I'm talking about applying the ‘keep it simple, stupid’ principle when dragging and dropping those design elements.) 
  • And don't forget that UI is a key factor in user experience design. A flabby, strewn interface can turn users down forever.
3. Multi-platform accessibility

Where and how people access your apps matter. Build it for just one platform and you might be excluding a number of employees from the experience.

Bring your own device (BYOD) is becoming increasingly popular in the corporate world. According to a report by Gartner, an IT-research and advisory firm, employees use an average of three devices in a typical work day in the modern workplace. The report mentions that as wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) gain momentum, that number is expected to increase to five or six devices per day. This means for your enterprise app to gain ground, it needs to be cross-platform.

We recommend you go with a web-based app. That way, it’ll be available and used across devices regardless of platform or OS. Joget Workflow makes it easy to quickly create enterprise web apps that are mobile-optimized and cloud-ready.

4. Your IT team's support

It is not uncommon to try to have a go at building apps on your own, especially when using a no-code/low-code platform like Joget. But here’s what:

You need your IT…

Not necessarily to write code but to help minimize the roadblocks that may once in a while pop up during the development process and in the future. For one, you don’t want to make your IT feel as though you're replacing their jobs with a third-party service. Remember, they'll be responsible for managing the app after it’s developed and deployed. You need to work with them from day one and not only when you run into technically complex issues you can’t resolve on your own.
With IT involved, you can be sure that you will be getting internal support like quickly handling minor bugfixes (this saves you from bugging your software vendor every time, which in turn saves your organization time and money) and their expert contribution, which all go to add to the overall success of your enterprise application.

5. Adoption strategy

Successful app development does not end with just the build process; it continues to deployment and adoption. And until the app fulfills its purpose, it's not successful. How can the app fulfill its purpose when it hasn’t been adopted and used by employees?

study conducted by SAP points out that 78 percent of enterprise apps are abandoned after their first use.

Here's the rub:

The app development process may not be the hard part, but adoption. Some organizations struggle with this. This is why you need a good adoption strategy in place.

To start with, create an app that's enthralling and easy to use as discussed in point #2 above. Most times, employees are typically already swamped with too much work. For example, they might already be overwhelmed by the high number of emails they get each day. Introducing “another burden” will only result in a slap in the face for your app. Not nice!

Some gold nuggets to give you a kick in the butt?
  • Offer incentives if you have to, but the best adoption strategy should be building an app that incentivizes its own adoption through its features and benefits. 
  • Talk them into using the app; if they understand it will help make their job easier, then they will use it. 
  • Follow up after the initial deployment, stay engaged with users, and identify and solve complaints. 
  • Sometimes, all you really need to do is train the staff on using the app. 
We advise you don’t force users to adopt your app. They should make that choice on their own on the basis of it being a better option. Otherwise, get back to the drawing board and create something better.

What You Don't Need

So above we’ve discussed some of the most important things you need to make your enterprise app successful. Good stuff, but here’s what you don’t necessarily need:

Coding skills!

Codeless development is growing in popularity. Rapidly. It's the future. And this means anyone can easily develop and deploy apps quickly using talent they already have.

If becoming a professional programmer intrigues you, great. But if you’re interested in building usable apps in minutes without gambling with quality, then you don’t necessarily need to learn to code; just learn how to work with technology. The trick is to take the next step by getting started with Joget Workflow today if you aren't already doing so.